Matthew 6: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Deion Sanders was a sports superstar in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Millions of American boys dream of being a National Football League (NFL) star or Major League Baseball (MLB) star, but Deion Sanders actually reached the pinnacle of success in both sports. In fact, he is the only man in history to play in both a Super Bowl and World Series, the championships for the NFL and MLB respectively.
Having achieved the height of sporting success, and the fringe benefits that follow of fame and fortune, surely Deion must have been the happiest man in America. Deion tells the story of the night where he won the NFL Super Bowl. He was the first one out of the locker room, the first one to go home. While his teammates partied he rolled over and went to sleep. Sanders explained, “That was the same week I bought myself a brand new $275,000 Lamborghini, and I haven’t even driven a mile before I realized, ‘No that’s not it. That’s not what I’m looking for. It’s got to be something else, I’m so hungry’”.
Jack Higgins is an award winning novelist and could relate to this feeling of emptiness. When interviewed after winning an award for his novel “The Eagle has Landed”, he was asked “What do you now know that you wished you had known as a young man?” His surprising answer was: “I wish that I knew that when you get to the mountain top, there is nothing there.”
An athlete’s motivation is usually in the form of goal setting. An athlete might be motivated to make a certain team, become a regional or national champion, or even become an Olympian or a professional athlete. In themselves such goals are not bad, and arguably could even be considered positive aspirations. However, the danger arises when you place excessive weight or value in the goal itself, and assume that the achievement of the goal will bring the joy and contentment you are craving.
As Christian athletes Jesus gives us the direction we need for our lives. In the above verse, in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”. If seeking God is your first priority, then your joy and contentment will come from your relationship with Jesus, rather than the attainment of athletic goals. To be clear, there is no shame in achieving athletic success and feeling the happiness that comes from achieving goals you have set for yourself, however, this must always pale in comparison to the inexpressible joy that only comes from serving your Lord and Saviour.
Deion Sanders found that inexpressible joy one night at 4am, not on the football field or the baseball diamond, not at a bar or at a party, but alone in his room with his Bible. Deion invited Jesus into his heart and as he says: “it was just a complete and total transformation that began to work inside of me.” Deion had finally found the joy and peace that he so desperately wanted. He was no longer hungry.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. John 14:27